Street: Okay, let’s start with the basics. What’s your major?
Ros Shinkle: So I’m in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics, MEAM for short. So it’s a lot of higher level physics, then applied. So I’m in a lab right now, and after this, I’m gonna go upstairs and play with legos that have to move in a certain way. There’s a lot of math involved, so it’s not really like legos when you were little.
Street: Are you close with the MEAM kids?
RS: So MEAM is highly structured. You have to take certain classes at a given time, and because of that really rigid curricula (Ed. Note: Yes, she really said curricula.), we know most of the kids in our classes. We also have study halls…it’s really nice. It’s how I survive. If you’re doing the kind of problem sets that make you stay up all night, it’s nice to do them with a group of people. That eases the pain.
Street: How many other girls are there?
RS: When we started there were about 65 people total and five girls. Now it’s a little better—somewhere around 80 or 90 total, and 15 girls.
Street: Has anything bizarre ever happened in one of your engineering classes?
RS: There’s a lot of weird stuff. But there’s very much this culture of like, 'We’re weird and we all love it.' We just all rejoice in anything weird that happens. We have this Facebook group called 'Memes of MEAM,' and it’s just photos making fun of what goes on in class. Oh, last semester, we had a class called Statics. Basically the whole conversation was all about 'stiff members' and 'stiff bodies,' so yeah. Nerds get down.
Street: What other nerdy activities are you involved in?
RS: Well, I do own a 3D printing business. It’s called Print Prodigy, LLC. The name sounds really obnoxious. But anyway, I basically do CAD (Computer Aided Design) work and 3D printing. So either someone will have a 3D model that they want to be printed and they’ll send it to me, or they'll have an idea and ask me to do the CAD work and build it. Then I charge fees for the printer time, the volume and the amount of filament I use. (Ed. Note: Check out her Instagram account @printprodigy.)
Street: How long have you been in business?
RS: I started setting up in August, bought my first printer in September and my second in November. They’re in my apartment. One is actually under my sink and the other is in my bedroom.
Street: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve 3D printed?
RS: Nothing that weird, really. I printed octopus tentacles that were an iPad stand once. That was pretty cool.
Street: How’d you get started with this?
RS: Last summer, I was working for a startup and was building a 3D printer–slash–robot. We were working in a startup incubator and one thing we did in between grants to keep making money was CAD and print supplies for other startups. And I basically realized that you were taking a $20 roll of filament and turning it into $800 of revenue, and that’s a lot of money. And there’s actually a big need for it. I usually end up printing about two jobs a week, which has been enough to break even on one of my printers and has given me a reason to buy a second printer.
Street: Is the 3D printer the nerdiest thing about you?
RS: I mean yeah, but I really enjoy the 3D printing, like I genuinely enjoy it. I get really excited about it. I like to watch the printers and the sound is literally soothing to me. It’s like listening to R2D2. It’s not cool or fun or soothing at all, but I enjoy it. Also...I really like Lord of the Rings.
Street: Which is better, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter?
RS: Well, I only read the seventh book, because I wanted to know what happened. I’m such an asshole.
Street: They say that Engineering is the Ravenclaw of Penn, but which house do you think you’d be in?
RS: I don’t know enough to categorize myself. As long as I’m not in Hufflepuff. Just put me in Gryffindor—I know that’s the good one.
Street: How do you feel about being the Geek of the Week?
RS: I feel honored, and I feel like you should meet some more geeks. I’m not the geekiest. I wish I were. I wish I deserved this position. I want to thank my parents…my teachers…my back brace for getting me through the really dark days.
Street: Back brace?
RS: I just wear it every once in a while. I have serious, serious back problems. And if I’m really stressed out, it all goes to my back. So I literally want to thank my back brace.
Street: What’s the one thing I forgot to ask you?
RS: Well, I’m taking Arabic Choir. I don’t speak Arabic. I’m tone deaf. I’m in Arabic choir. All I do is sit there and chant, and there’s a point in every class where I literally feel my shoulders drop an inch and I’m like, 'Okay, it’s the weekend.' Literally, if there’s a key to success, it’s Arabic Choir.